The Great Sound Debate In Formula 1

2014 will mark a new technical era in Formula 1 with the reintroduction of turbocharged V6 engines. As car manufacturers move away from high displacement in favor of more economical setups, it makes sense that Formula 1 would follow a similar path. The switch will also invite new manufacturers to join the sport with Honda and Hyundai rumored to enter in 2015. From a business perspective, the new technical regulations make sense, however there are worries that the sport will loose some of its spectacle.


The unique and at times violent roar of Formula 1 cars has always played an important role in the sport. The Ferrari V12s of the early 90s produced a sound heard nowhere else before or since. Many including Bernie Ecclestone, are worried that the muted tones of forced induction will turn some fans away from the sport.

Many will recall the first turbo era of Formula 1 in the 80s. The manufacturers used 6-cylinder engines not unlike what we’ll see in 2014 and the roar of their turbos’ external wastegates, provided an equally menacing soundtrack to the V10s and V12s to follow. The inline 6 turbocharged engines from BMW where known to be the most power Formula 1 has ever seen – rumored to produce nearly 1500 HP and 65 PSI in qualifying trim. While the 2014 cars will max out at around 750 HP, there’s still the potential for them to sound fantastic.

The sport’s engine manufacturers are already hard at work completing the new V6s and their sound has been a closely guarded secret. However Eccelstone has complained about the sound and even suggested the use of artificial enhancements, to make things more exciting for spectators. While Formula 1 purists will scoff at that mere suggestion of artificial noise, no one really knows what to expect. No official videos have been released of the new engine sound, however one YouTube user has produced some possibilities of what we might hear in 2014.

Each engine sound has been modified to rev to 15000 RPM which will be the limit in 2014. While the modified VR38 from the GT-R sounds exciting, the actual sound may be closer to the modified Alfa 155 DTM. It’s unlikely the turbochargers will feature external wastegates which are largely responsible for the roar of the cars in the 80s. They will also be producing significantly less boost in favor of an Energy Recovery System.

The 2014 regulations all seem a bit complicated however they’re a reflection of what we’re seeing on production cars these days. BMW is one manufacturer known for pumping artificial engine noise through the speakers of their M cars. Even Mercedes are shying away from their iconic V8s in favor of more economical turbo setups.

Despite my initial reservations, I’m excited for the new turbo era of Formula 1. With added boost we may be treated to less traction in the bends. The new ERS will also provide an additional 150 HP at the touch of a button. It will increase the potential for overtaking and make for better racing in general. While the simulations are all very entertaining, my hope is that we’ll be hearing this in 2014.

Videos courtesy of ngendro & CarniftyTV.


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